Halloween (2018)

Directed by David Gordon Green

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Halloween turns Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) into a hunter on the 40th anniversary of the events of the original Halloween.  She barricades herself in a cabin fortress somewhere in the woods, prepared for the day Michael Myers would come back for her.  Whether she fears it or is excited for it, it’s sometimes not clear, but what is clear is that the trauma is never far from her mind.  The film ties together Laurie’s story with the Me Too movement, empowering the character and at one point having her say the lines “time’s up.”

I think this is a pretty damn good sequel to the original movie (and I have not seen any of the other ten or so follow ups).  It borrows enough from the original, between the obsessed psychiatrist, big-hearted police officer and the other various slasher movie tropes the original inspired but also adds its own spin to this all.  It’s the right blend, in other words, of homage and originality.

Some of the set up feels a bit tired, if only because it’s the mandatory preamble to Myers’ escape from incarceration.  There is a minor subplot with a couple of stereotypical podcasters (stereotypical in a negative sense) who run a sort of true crime podcast and have now set their sights on Myers.  They are aggressive, selfish and, worst of all, they have horrible timing.  If you’re going to produce a show on the “babysitter murders” from Halloween 1978, timed for the 40th anniversary, wouldn’t you do all your research/recording ahead of time so you could release the podcast on Halloween night?

The story, of course, has to take place on Halloween, and so it necessities other strange timing, like that Myers is set to be transported between facilities the day before Halloween.

The other side of the first half of this story introduces us to the teenagers who are soon to be slaughtered.  They revolve around Laurie’s granddaughter, Allyson (Andi Matichak), and through her we learn more about Laurie’s life in the years since the events of the original film.

Because of that traumatic night, Laurie raised her daughter, Karen (Judy Greer), to know how to shoot a gun and defend herself in a fight, at least until she was taken away by Child Protective Services.  Laurie is thus similar to the Sarah Connor we meet in Terminator 2: Judgment Day, though Connor in that film has been institutionalized.

Because so much of the groundwork here has been worked out in the original film, once Myers escapes and puts on the mask, he quickly gets to work.  The murders are well-staged and yeah, disturbing.  They are sometimes quick in a way you don’t expect from horror movies (with the tension drawn out), but when they are tense, they’re tense as sh*t.  Well I thought so.  The murders are at least creatively staged, making good use of the frame (soft focus to hide Myers in the background) and scenic elements, whether it be the simple elements of a suburban bedroom or the motion sensor lights in a backyard.

After an unexpected twist or too and plenty of gore, the film then pivots to a take on Home Alone, only this time it’s Laurie’s fortified cabin.  With each story beat taking us further inside, more is revealed about the design of the home and, through that, about Laurie as a person.  The degree to which the house is fortified in booby-trapped kept surprising me, almost all the way until the end.

It’s a pretty stirring horror movie, as far as I can tell, simple and devastating with no sense of a false victory.  The necessary carnage for a movie like this is real and earned, with many of the deaths all the more disturbing because the characters have enough personality to make you feel strongly about them in one way or another.

Up Next: In the Heat of the Night (1967), Jeff, Who Lives at Home (2011), The Weather Man (2005)

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